It didn't take very long for everyone at the TD Garden to realize Brandyn Curry and Kyle Casey were back on the court for Harvard. Both of the previously suspended players started for Tommy Amaker's squad as it took the floor for its first game of 2013-14 against Holy Cross on Sunday. But in case you missed introductions because the concession line was long, Casey and Curry made sure you knew as Casey threw down a powerful dunk for the first two points of the season, a play on which Curry had the assist.
Two of the key players behind Harvard's resurgence, a majority of college basketball fans wrote off the Crimson last season when the pair of then-juniors withdrew from the school just a day before the enrollment deadline after being embroiled in an academic dishonesty investigation. In doing so, they maintained their final year of eligibility, but also lost a year that was looking to be a banner one in Cambridge.
Instead, Curry and Casey took full-time jobs. Casey spent time with the Boston Celtics non-profit working with youth while Curry sold insurance. Harvard, on the other hand, won the Ivy League and advanced to the Round of 32 of the NCAA Tournament behind the play of players who emerged in their absence.
Now that they are back in the fold, how would they fit in? Could they fit in with a team that had done just fine without them? The answer was a resounding "Yes."
"They have done an amazing job of fitting in," Amaker said. "That's so impressive out of two guys that have played a lot for this program and been a part of a lot of winning and success, to recognize what happened last year and now coming back they have been very wise and mature. Realizing how 'fit in' instead of 'take over.' That has really endeared them to their teammates. I'm very confident in those kids to do some sensational things for us this season."
Casey got in some foul trouble early, only managing four points in 16 minutes of action. But when he was out there you could sense his presence had an effect not just on Harvard, but on Holy Cross defensively. He was another body to account for and another weapon to deal with. He added seven rebounds, an assist, and a block to put together a decent, albeit short, return to the court.
As for Curry, sharing a back court with Chambers instantly makes the Crimson one of the hardest teams in college basketball to cover. Both players scored in double digits, 14 for Curry and 11 for Chambers, and dished out six assists apiece while turning it over just five times between them. Their ability to work off each other and find their teammates made Amaker's offense flow very nicely and opened up even more opportunities for leading scorer Wesley Saunders, who poured in a team-high 18 points.
So talented is this team that Laurent Rivard, one of the smoothest mid-major players in the country, was relegated to reserve duty -- although he did play 33 minutes anyway. Jonah Travis came off the bench for 20 points and 10 rebounds and likely would have been the story on any other night.
But not Sunday night. On Sunday night it was about seeing what Harvard can be when all the pieces are together and how two players who missed an entire season could reenter the fold. Holy Cross is far from the best team Harvard will face in 13-14, but they asked a lot of questions of the Crimson in its first game.
And, as Harvard students are known to do, they had all the answers.